Heart rate variability and circadian variations in type 1 diabetes mellitus

Pediatr Diabetes. 2006 Feb;7(1):45-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-543X.2006.00141.x.


Diabetic autonomic neuropathy (DAN) commonly complicates diabetes and is associated with increased mortality rates over 5 yr. This fact denotes the significance of DAN prevention, mainly with effective glycemic control. However, total prevention of autonomic neuropathy in diabetic patients is not achievable. Thus, the timely detection of DAN and the use of effective means to improve autonomic nervous system function or slow down its progression become of utmost significance. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a technique that measures the beat-to-beat variability in RR intervals, which reflects changes in autonomic activity and their impact on cardiovascular function. Circadian variation in time and frequency domains of heart variability has been shown to correlate with circadian rhythm of ambulatory ischemia and suggests that relative changes in vagal and sympathetic tone at different times during the day may have a direct relationship to the severity of clinical events. Forty-seven (21 boys and 26 girls) type I insulin-dependent diabetics and 46 control subjects (19 boys and 27 girls) were included in the study. Our investigation demonstrated that overall HRV is markedly depressed in diabetes mellitus (DM). All time domain parameters except standard deviation of all 5-min mean RR intervals and all frequency domain indices maintain significant circadian variation. These changes in overall HRV and HRV circadian rhythms reflect significant reductions in cardiac parasympathetic activity and, possibly, increased sympathetic tone.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results